I wasn't thinking, really. I just lazily ambled into the Co-op, thinking there was nothing to concern me, but then of course it happened. Before I knew what had happened, I was right there alongside the newspapers as they yelled their front-page headlines at me.
I only caught three words. "WILL YOUR CHILD". At least I think that's what I read. My mind went off spiralling in a few different directions. Will your child be murdered by someone on Facebook? Will your child be bringing home one of those ghastly immigrants? Will your child be in debt for the next billion years thanks to Gordon and Alistair? Will your child ever stop crying long enough for you to kick off your slippers and read the Daily Mail in peace? Will your child grow up in a world in which no-one has any respect for newspapers and the stuff they print? Will your child even care about that?
I thought of all these things as I skidded past the booze section - I'd hastily set off at a canter past the newspapers in case I was tempted to go back and read it all. In my mind, I emulate the giddy heights of Michael J Fox's chase scenes through buildings, particularly the overcompensation when running around corners; but in reality I'm nowhere near MJF in his Teen Wolf pomp. It was all I could do to stop myself from stacking myself pathetically into a shelf of beer - which, thankfully, I managed to do. I'm sure it would have given the otherwise bleak-faced staff something to smirk about as they watched the CCTV footage over and over again. "Is this what it's come to?" I asked myself. "My mission to avoid the Mail, just fodder for people in the Co-op to laugh at when I go tumbling over like the inept Weeble that I am?"
I have been asking myself if it's really all worth it, and I'm not so sure it is, at times. Sometimes it seems that avoiding the M**l like the plague is almost as bad as the plague; surely it would be simpler just to look at it, roll my eyes and then carry on with my day. But is that possible?
So. Here's the plan. An experiment, if you like. Tomorrow I'm going to carry on avoiding my papery nemesis, as if everything's carrying on as normal. Then, on Thursday, I'm going to buy one.
Yes. Yes, you heard that right. Not avoid it at all. But go into a fucking shop and buy one. With my own money. Using cash. Buy it and look at it and read it. From cover to cover. Oh yes. I'm going to read the whole thing. From start to finish. Every word. Every syllable. Every sentence. Every whine. Every moan. Every angrily questioning headline. Every single bloody thing. And then, when I am done, I will tell you what I have seen. I will report back. I will be Fortinbras, having to report the terrible thing I have just witnessed to the world. I will be he who has borne witness to the atrocity. I will look, with my own eyes, and not shy away from what I have seen. I will dive, headfirst, into that lake of pus, that piss-coated bouncy castle of sniping and thinly veiled prejudice, and emerge with a triumphant grin. I will survive.
That's the thing. I've skirted around the edges this past couple of years. I've flirted with the Mail and all the delights within. We've exchanged a knowing glance on the stairs a couple of times, and I've gone home and wondered what it might be like in its pants. Now it's time for that office party where we get horrifically ratarsed and copulate like a couple of mangey foxes out by the swings next to a pub car park. And then, the postmortem.
Yes. I think the time is right. I must confess to you now I have never bought a D**ly M**l, with my own money, in my life. Sure, I've seen them. I've looked at them. I've had them shown to me by people who thought I should read what was within. But now, I want one of my very own. And I'm going to have one.
And you can't stop me.